White Opal Betta Fish: Understanding Their Genetics and Care

White opal bettas are unlike any other variety of betta fish.

Instead of sporting bright colors, these beautiful fish have white bodies and fins with an opalescent sheen.

Due to the iridescence of white opal bettas, they are not solid white.

Depending on the light, you may see shimmery flashes of blue or green.

These white fish are not as popular as some bettas with more vibrant colors.

But white bettas are still one of the lucky-to-obtain color variations among some betta fish keepers.

In this article, we highlight the beauty of white opal bettas and discuss the complex genetics of this unusual color variant.

What Is a White Opal Betta Fish?

white opal betta fish with a pinkish hue.

White opal bettas have solid white bodies and fins.

The body and fins have an iridescent sheen, making these bettas appear shiny in the light.

As a white opal betta swims, it displays flashes of blue and green.

This is much like the flashes of color you see in an opal gemstone.

Their bodies sometimes have a pinkish hue due to the visible flesh underneath the scales.

Tail Types

White opal bettas can have any tail variation.

But flowy fin types like the halfmoon and rosetail enhance the white opal betta’s stunning appearance.

Veiltail and crowntail variations are also popular choices for white betta fish.

Some betta breeders ignore the tail type and focus on the color of these white bettas.

This can result in white opal bettas with less-than-desirable tails.

Do White Opal Betta Fish Change Color?

A white Opal Bettas can develop streaks color as it matures.

These color changes are not sudden and usually happen over a long period

When this color change occurs, it is because the white opal betta carries the marble gene.

Marble genes turn certain pigment cells on and off. This creates splotches of color on the betta’s body and fins.

Not all white opal bettas change color. If the marble genes remain inactive, the betta stays white.

Another reason white opal bettas change color is stress from poor water conditions.

When bettas become stressed or ill, their colors fade and turn pale.

This is why many bettas in little cups at the pet store do not show their true colors.

Ammonia and other toxins build up in these cups and cause stress to the betta.

The fish can regain its colors once you bring your betta home and place it in optimal tank conditions.

If you buy a white opal betta at a pet store, your fish may start gaining dark blue or black colors after a few weeks.

How Are White Opal and Platinum Bettas Different?

White Opal Betta Fish VS. Platinum Betta Fish
White Opal Betta Fish Left And Platinum Betta Fish Right

White opal bettas and platinum bettas may look the same but have different genetics.

A white opal betta has iridescent and marble genes.

But platinum bettas have metallic traits without marble genes.

While the metallic pigments come from the iridescent layer, they are not the same as true iridescence.

Metallic pigments appear as silver or copper without the iridescent color patterns of green and blue.

Betta breeders introduced these metallic colors by crossing betta splendens with wild bettas.

Wild species of betta fish like the betta imbellis, smaragdina, and mahachai have high amounts of iridescence.

This iridescence is likely due to the murkier waters these betta species live in.

Breeders perfected metallic copper and silver colors through selective breeding.

According to Dr. Rosalyn Upson, the metallic pigments in wild bettas reflect different colors on the visible spectrum.

The metallic iridescence reflects yellow or yellow-green wavelengths instead of blue and green.

The metallic colors in a platinum betta give it a silver coloring on the body and fins.

Since platinum bettas do not carry marble genes, they remain white throughout their lives.

But platinum bettas can develop black spots near the eyes and lips when exposed to direct sunlight for prolonged periods.

True platinum bettas are very rare due to the complicated genetics involved in breeding them.

How Are White Opal and Pastel Bettas Different?

White opal bettas and pastel bettas have almost identical genetics.

The difference between them lies in the opaque gene.

All white opal bettas carry the opaque gene in high amounts.

Pastel bettas have less of the opaque trait.

Opaque genes in pastel bettas make their iridescent colors appear more solid.

Instead of white bodies, pastel bettas may have soft colors like pale green or light blue.

The fins of pastel bettas are usually translucent with streaks of light colors.

Pastel bettas can look more like cellophane bettas with transparent bodies and fins if they do not have enough opaque pigment.

Too much opaque pigment turns a pastel betta into a white opal betta.

Opaque pigment cells have partial dominance.

Breeders usually cross pastel bettas with white opal bettas. Doing this strengthens the opaque pigment.

This breeding pair produces 100% pastel offspring.

Are White Opal Betta Fish Rare?

White opal betta fish are not rare but have an unusual color variation.

There is more demand for other varieties of bettas with jewel-bright colors.

But as long as betta fish keepers seek out the white opal betta, breeders continue developing them.

You may not find many white opal bettas at your local fish store.

Many online breeders sell white opal betta fish, but they may have a different name for them.

White opal bettas are sometimes sold under simple names like “white betta” or “opaque betta.”

These bettas got the “white opal” name to make them sound more appealing to buyers.

Always buy your white opal betta from a reputable breeder.

This ensures you receive a healthy fish without any genetic defects.

Make sure the fish in the photos is the fish you are buying.

Some breeders use stock photos of bettas with ideal coloring and finnage to attract buyers.

In reality, they may sell you a betta with imperfections in its color or poor finnage.

Ask plenty of questions about the fish and the breeder’s shipping and return policies.

If the breeder does not answer your questions or offer a return policy, they are not likely very reputable.

Read any reviews the breeder may have. These reviews can give you more insight into the experiences others had with the breeder.

Average Cost of a White Opal Betta Fish

The average price of a white opal betta fish ranges from $20 to $25.

These white bettas are less expensive than other color morphs because they have less demand.

White opal bettas with the elephant ear trait are more expensive, ranging from $30 to $50.

Elaborate tail types like the over halfmoon and rosetail cost more than the regular halfmoon and veiltail varieties.

A white opal betta male usually costs more than a female.

This is because male bettas have longer fins than female bettas.

When buying a white opal betta from an online breeder, you must also factor in the shipping costs.

Shipping costs for live bettas are usually between $15 and $20.

This price covers overnight express shipping in a special container, so you receive a healthy fish.

The Breeding History of White Opal Betta Fish

There is very little information on the origin and breeding history of the white opal betta.

But we do know the specific genetics a white opal betta carries.

The genes a white opal betta carries include:

  • C=Cambodian
  • Bl=Steel blue
  • Si=Spread iridescence
  • Nr=Non-red
  • Op=Opaque

The Cambodian gene is a recessive trait. Cambodian pigment cells give the white opal betta its pale body.

Steel blue pigments appear silvery white on a light-colored betta.

Opaque bettas with green or royal blue iridescence have a green or blue tint to the body and fins instead of white.

This makes these bettas pastel instead of white opal.

Spread iridescence is a dominant gene. This trait produces the opalescent sheen on a white opal betta’s body and fins.

Non-red genes are recessive, removing all red pigment in a betta.

This is why white opal bettas change to blue and black instead of red.

The opaque gene has partial dominance. A betta with two alleles of this gene is more opaque than a betta with only one allele.

Opaque genes give the white opal betta its white coloring.

Are White Opal Bettas Prone to Disease?

White opal bettas are prone to the same common diseases as other betta fish, including:

  • Fin rot
  • Swim bladder disorder
  • Ich
  • Dropsy

Learn more about these common betta fish diseases here.

But white opal bettas are more prone to a disease called cloudy eye.

Cloudy eye has many different causes.

White opal bettas usually get cloudy eyes caused by cataracts.

Cataracts are common in white opal bettas due to their opaque genetics.

There is no cure for cataracts in bettas, and most of them do not develop the disease until old age.

Other causes of cloudy eyes include:

  • Internal parasites
  • Bacterial infection
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Poor water quality

A betta with cloudy eyes can have several symptoms, such as:

  • A gray or opaque film over the eyes
  • A build-up of mucus on the body
  • Trouble finding food
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy

Eye cloud is not a fatal disease. But the stress from vision loss can lower your betta’s immune system.

Any time your betta has a lowered immune system, your fish becomes more vulnerable to other diseases.

If your betta has cloudy eyes for reasons other than cataracts, it is treatable.

Remove your betta to a separate quarantine tank and add one tablespoon of aquarium salt for every five gallons of water.

Once your betta’s condition improves, you may move it back to the main tank.

Cloudy eye caused by cataracts does not have a treatment.

A betta can adjust to its vision loss over time.

A feeding ring is helpful to bettas with a vision impairment.

It keeps the food in one area, so your betta can find and eat its meal.

Keeping Your White Opal Betta Fish Healthy

Your white opal betta needs a healthy environment with plenty of hiding spots and enrichment.

Bettas also need a protein-rich diet of high-quality betta pellets and live or frozen foods.

We provide some tips below for ensuring your betta stays healthy and happy.

Maintain Consistent Water Parameters

Bettas are sensitive to poor water conditions and unstable water parameters.

Establish a regular tank cleaning routine and stick to it every week.

Weekly partial water changes remove harmful toxins like ammonia and nitrites.

Ammonia or nitrite levels above 0 parts per million can make your betta very sick.

Remove up to 25% of the tank water and replace it with fresh water.

Always add a water conditioner to the new water.

This removes toxic chlorine and chloramine from tap water, making it safe for your betta.

Use a gravel vacuum to remove waste and leftover food from the substrate.

An algae scraper helps you remove algae buildup from the sides of the tank.

Despite what some fish keepers might say, bettas need an aquarium filter.

A filter keeps the water circulated and helps remove bacteria and debris particles between water changes.

These tropical fish also need a quality water heater.

A waterproof submersible heater helps maintain the warm temperatures bettas need.

An ideal temperature range for bettas is 78-80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Improper temperatures can lead to issues with digestion and other health problems.

Test your tank water every week with an aquarium testing kit.

This test shows the amount of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates in the tank water.

If ammonia or nitrite levels are above 0 ppm, immediately perform a partial water change.

Prolonged exposure to these toxins can cause chemical burns and ammonia poisoning in bettas.

Provide a Healthy Diet

Bettas are carnivores and need a protein-heavy diet.

Look for betta pellets with at least 35% animal protein.

You may supplement your betta’s diet with live or frozen foods, such as:

  • Brine shrimp
  • Daphnia
  • Blood worms
  • Mosquito larvae

Feed your betta two small meals daily and set aside one day of the week for fasting.

Fasting lets your betta process undigested food and prevents bloating and constipation.

Create an Ideal Environment

The smallest recommended tank size for bettas is 5 gallons.

A larger tank of 10 gallons or more provides your betta with plenty of space for swimming.

Aquatic plants create a more natural environment for your betta.

Live plants benefit from filtering out bacteria and oxygenating the water.

Artificial plants do not provide these benefits but can add a natural feel to your betta tank.

Choose silk plants instead of plastic plants. Plastic plants contain sharp edges, which can tear your betta’s delicate fins.

Tank decorations and hiding spots add enrichment and make your betta feel more secure.

Choose decorations without sharp edges or lots of paint for a safe environment.

Ideal decorations include driftwood, smooth rocks, and ceramic caves.

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Toni Tedescucci is a freelance writer who loves all animals, especially betta fish. When she isn’t busy writing for Betta Fish Bay, she’s spending time with her family or getting cozy with her cats and a good book.

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